When we finally have decided to start living healthy and to do something about our overweight, our loose skin or limp muscles, we most often start a diet and/or make a subscription to a fitness center. The first couple of weeks we are highly motivated to reach our goal. But really soon after that, the willpower to follow through drops rapidly. The daily chores, the work, people around you demand your attention, all this is nagging on your energy. The result is not showing fast enough – after having lost a couple of pounds, the weight is not moving downwards anymore. This frustrates us and all of a sudden, we have forgotten our good intentions.
How can we motivate ourselves to stay on course with our decision living a healthy life?
The best way is to take small steps at a time,
this helps you to not overstrain your willpower.
Change only one thing at a time. If we try to change too many things in our daily life at once, we won’t endure this for a long time. Body and mind need some time to adjust to new habits ¹.
Now I’d like to share my experience with you, then you’ll see what I mean.
The first step to a healthy living for me made a big impact on my weight. At that time, I was just fed up with my weight problem. I didn’t feel well, and my clothes didn’t fit anymore. Even if I did some training like jogging or fitness training now and then, I had gained weight again after having been on a diet. I knew I shouldn’t have gone back to the unhealthy habits. I knew I had to change something but what and how?
I began to reflect about my eating habits, about what and when I ate and drank, and asked myself: What can I omit, that does not “hurt” too much? In that very moment, I decided to stop drinking ice tea. Ice tea was what I could give up most easily of all my unhealthy habits. I used to drink 2,5 liters of sweet ice tea each day and I thought I could really try to drink plain water with the meals instead of ice tea, as the food has got a taste in itself. I continued to drink ice tea in between the meals and didn’t change any other eating or exercising habits.
Within a couple of weeks, I had lost 3 pounds! I almost couldn’t believe the scale, but I felt that my clothes fit better and better so it must be true. This motivated me to omit sweet ice tea altogether – and I lost 3 pounds more in the following two weeks.
Since then, I drink water with the meals and hot tea, black or flavoured, in between the meals and I don’t even miss the daily dose of ice tea anymore. Sometimes in my holidays, I allow myself to drink a glass of ice tea or a lemonade in between, but together with a meal I still choose to drink a glass of water.
Enjoy your life instead of torment yourself – but always have in mind that exaggerations in either way are not healthy.
Habit Changer Tip: Water
1. Analyse your habits. Reflect on your eating habits and other daily habits.
2. Write down all the unhealthy habits you need/want to change.
3. Choose one of the unhealthy habits which you want to omit/ change.
4. Choose a healthy alternative and eat/drink/do that instead.
5. Write down why you want to change your habits, and how you feel when you have achieved your goal. It is very important to visualize your feelings, that helps you to really reach your goal.
6. Do follow this for at least three weeks and your new habit will start to become a routine.
Do not give up, if it hasn’t got manifested yet. Feel the change in your body and be happy about what you have achieved so far. After about two months the new habit most probably will have become an automated action.
7. If you fall for a temptation – forgive yourself but do not quit your intention to follow through.
Just keep on going and always think of the reward – being and feeling fit and attractive.
¹ Malcolm Maltz, an American surgeon, was the first person to say that at least 21 days is necessary to form a new habit. It was through his own observation within his profession, that he came to this conclusion. He published the thesis in 1960 in his book “Psycho-Cybernetics”.
Much later, in 2009 a research by Philippa Lally and her research team, discovered that it takes on average 66 days to manifest a new behavior. It can vary between 18 and 254 days, depending on the circumstances.
Philippa Lally is a health psychology researcher at University College London and her study was published in European Journal of Social Psychology, 16 July 2009.
Enjoy your life, happy & healthy!
Please, leave a comment below. I’d love to know your experiences or tips.
If you have any questions concerning “how to start living healthy”, I’d be more than pleased to answer them.